All aboard. The midnight train bound for Hell and parts unknown is now boarding, with brief stops in Hostel, Saw, and Turistas by way of the Terror Train line, we welcome you aboard. For your riding pleasure you’ll be entertained along the way by a group of college wrestlers who have just become unofficial organ donors, if you know what I mean. They’re just dying to make this ride as enjoyable as possible. There’s plenty of blood and gore for your riding comfort. Sit back and enjoy the fine Bulgarian countryside. Out of courtesy for your fellow travelers please turn off all cell phones for the duration of your voyage. There’s a pause button located conveniently on your remote control should you require an unscheduled stop. Please place food trays and any additional spare body parts you’ve brought with you securely under your seats. Should your film stop suddenly or begin to act in an erratic manner, try pushing buttons on your remote in a furious and random fashion. It won’t actually help, but studies have shown it will limit your discomfort and feeling of helplessness. Our estimated travel time is 94 minutes. Finally, please remember not to cover the ventilation slots of your equipment with the empty DVD case while the film is in motion.
The Indiana wrestling team is on an Eastern Europe tournament tour. Unfortunately, they’re not doing so well on the mats. When five of the players decide to break curfew and spend the night partying and brawling, they miss the train out to the next stop on the tour. The rest of the team has gone on ahead, and the coach has to buy tickets on an independent railway to get the five tardy players to the next stop. It looks like the five party animals weren’t the only ones making bad choices. Coach has booked his stragglers on a train ride to Hell. You know immediately that these aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed when they willingly give up their passports on the train to two pretty gnarly looking guys who claim they’ll keep them safe from thieves. Looks like another case of college co-eds with an average IQ somewhere south of Beavis and Butthead. Now they’re going to be taken on the ride of their lives … a very short ride at that. Nothing like a little clickety clack to go along with those screams and gurgles. This train has everything: food, booze, gambling, and fun with sharp objects as Dr. Velislava (Ruseva) runs a black market organ shop on rails.
Train originally started out as an intended remake of the cult classic Terror Train. Somewhere in the preproduction phase it was decided that the movie was different enough from that original film that they didn’t want to deal with having a remake in name only. They made the wise choice of ditching those plans and carrying on with their own idea. Certainly it’s derivative of your standard torture porn, but it’s also different enough that it’s worth the quick look. The cast is your typical B picture body types with little to no acting skill, but they manage to pull it off enough to keep the entertainment value high. For only a $4 million budget, the filmmakers actually manage to pull off some convincing sets and gore f/x. Koyna Ruseva was intended as the token local Bulgarian actress, but she’s the best performer in the group. The train setting has just the right amount of claustrophobic atmosphere while not being as limiting as it might seem on different places and set pieces. This is the little engine that could, and with this budget it does more than expected. You could do worse than this little gorefest on wheels.
Train is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The average bit rate of 4.6 mbps is a little shaky and presents too many problems with compression artifact and poorly defined shadow detail in the black levels. There are a lot of these dark moments that are poorly defined. The camera work gets a bit shaky, and I do understand that was part of both design and necessity. I liked this film a little too much to not feel slighted by a very limiting image presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works well in this dialog driven piece. There are some fine examples of ambient sounds here, but most of the action is front and center. The background sounds of the train on the rails is effective.
Another one of those useless Eco Boxes. Does anyone really think we’re saving the planet one DVD case at a time?
Behind The Scenes: (13:56) The picture quality of this typical making of piece is distressingly poor. Cast and crew offer mostly a story synopsis and character profiles. The usual filmmakers talking about how wonderful the cast is.
Ever play that board game Operation when you were a kid? You know the one where you have to remove things from a patient with little tweezers without touching the sides of the board. If you do, a buzzer goes off and the patient’s nose lights up. Ever wonder how it is that you have to take stuff out but nowhere in the game do you ever put anything back? Well, Dr. Velislava must have been a champ at that game. She’s taking stuff out, but not puttin’ stuff in. She might be touching the sides, but you can’t hear the buzzer, what with all of the screaming. Me, I don’t know anything about these sorts of things. The closest I ever got to removing an organ was watching my grandfather take an old Wurlitzer out of our Church balcony when I was a kid. Like that old board game, this stuff isn’t meant to be taken all that seriously. It’s just a lot of R rated fun, is all. “Sex and violence. That’s what it’s all about, right?”